She Taught Enslaved People At This Secret Midnight School

black female teacher instructing students
Briona Lamback
December 20, 2021

Lily Ann Granderson was born enslaved, but she never let the chains keep her bound. When she was sold downriver to Natchez, Mississippi, she spent some time in the cotton fields – but Granderson wanted more for herself and her people. She realized what she had to do.

She wanted to teach! Granderson could read and write – which was rare at the time – and she wanted to help other Black folks learn, too. So she opened a secret midnight school!

But fear loomed over. If she was discovered, her life was over.

She secured the school’s alleyway windows and doors tight, and only taught twelve students at a time, which helped keep things under wraps for years.

Her classes ran from 11pm to 2am, and she tirelessly taught until all her students were literate! Because of her teachings, some students were even able to write their own “travel passes” and used them to escape enslavement.

Granderson knew that education was crucial to liberation. And because many institutions are still white-washed today, we too must be willing to do whatever is necessary to overcome the racist barriers that try to stop us from controlling our education!

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